Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Marine biodiversity loss due to global warming and predation, study predicts

Date:
November 28, 2011
Source:
University of British Columbia
Summary:
The biodiversity loss caused by climate change will result from a combination of rising temperatures and predation -- and may be more severe than currently predicted, according to a new study.

Mussel beds like this one in Port Renfrew on the southern shore of Vancouver Island provides critical habitat for crabs, snails, worms and seaweed.
Credit: Christopher Harley, UBC

The biodiversity loss caused by climate change will result from a combination of rising temperatures and predation -- and may be more severe than currently predicted, according to a study by University of British Columbia zoologist Christopher Harley.

The study, published in the current issue of the journal Science, examined the response of rocky shore barnacles and mussels to the combined effects of warming and predation by sea stars.

Harley surveyed the upper and lower temperature limits of barnacles and mussels from the cool west coast of Vancouver Island to the warm shores of the San Juan Islands, where water temperature rose from the relatively cool of the1950s to the much warmer years of 2009 and 2010.

"Rocky intertidal communities are ideal test-beds for studying the effects of climatic warming," says Christopher Harley, an associate professor of zoology at UBC and author of the study. "Many intertidal organisms, like mussels, already live very close to their thermal tolerance limits, so the impacts can be easily studied."

At cooler sites, mussels and rocky shore barnacles were able to live high on the shore, well beyond the range of their predators. However, as temperatures rose, barnacles and mussels were forced to live at lower shore levels, placing them at the same level as predatory sea stars.

Daily high temperatures during the summer months have increased by almost 3.5 degrees Celsius in the last 60 years, causing the upper limits of barnacle and mussels habitats to retreat by 50 centimeters down the shore. However, the effects of predators, and therefore the position of the lower limit, have remained constant.

"That loss represents 51 per cent of the mussel bed. Some mussels have even gone extinct locally at three of the sites I surveyed," says Harley.

Meanwhile, when pressure from sea star predation was reduced using exclusion cages, the prey species were able to occupy hotter sites where they don't normally occur, and species richness at the sites more than doubled.

"A mussel bed is kind of like an apartment complex -- it provides critical habitat for a lot of little plants and animals," says Harley. "The mussels make the habitat cooler and wetter, providing an environment for crabs and other small crustaceans, snails, worms and seaweed."

These findings provide a comprehensive look at the effects of warming and predation, while many previous studies on how species ranges will change due to warming assume that species will simply shift to stay in their current temperature range.

Harley says the findings show that the combined effects of warming and predation could lead to more widespread extinction than are currently predicted, as animals or plants are unable to shift their habitat ranges.

"Warming is not just having direct effects on individual species," says Harley. "This study shows that climate change can also alter interactions between species, and produce unexpected changes in where species can live, their community structure, and their diversity."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of British Columbia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. C. D. G. Harley. Climate Change, Keystone Predation, and Biodiversity Loss. Science, 2011; 334 (6059): 1124 DOI: 10.1126/science.1210199

Cite This Page:

University of British Columbia. "Marine biodiversity loss due to global warming and predation, study predicts." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 November 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111128115645.htm>.
University of British Columbia. (2011, November 28). Marine biodiversity loss due to global warming and predation, study predicts. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111128115645.htm
University of British Columbia. "Marine biodiversity loss due to global warming and predation, study predicts." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111128115645.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Great British Farmland Boom

The Great British Farmland Boom

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 17, 2014) Britain's troubled Co-operative Group is preparing to cash in on nearly 18,000 acres of farmland in one of the biggest UK land sales in decades. As Ivor Bennett reports, the market timing couldn't be better, with farmland prices soaring over 270 percent in the last 10 years. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the industry fell under intense scrutiny. Now, small underground nuclear power plants are being considered as the possible future of the nuclear energy. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2014) Crocodile farming has been a challenge in Zimbabwe in recent years do the economic collapse and the financial crisis. But as Ciara Sutton reports one of Europe's biggest suppliers of skins to the luxury market has come up with an unusual survival strategy - vegetarian food. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) British researchers were able to use Mount Everest's low altitudes to study insulin resistance. They hope to find ways to treat diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins